Welcome to the awards.
Thanks for taking a moment out of your weekend to join us. Whether you spent your week having quality time with your orthopedist, watching a game up close, or announcing that you want to be referred to as the Monkey King, we all deserve the weekend.
For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.
All weekly stats are for the period of Friday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Sept. 11. All season totals are through the 11th.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Color me unimpressed with Joe Blanton’s effort on Monday that netted him a win. He went five innings, striking out one lone Marlin. This would go in the ASADIIFP category, but he did allow five hits and four runs. Still Anibal Sanchez and the Phillies lineup conspired to hand Blanton an easy win.
Bad Luck Division
When you have a game that ends with a total of one run being scored, chances are somebody is going to get a loss that they don’t really deserve. I am not surprised that Jake Peavy is that guy. I am a little surprised that Matt Garza can claim membership in the club.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Ehren Wasserman, the pride of Samford, had the good fortune of entering Saturday’s marathon versus the Angels one half inning before Jim Thome hit a walk-off shot in the 15th. Granted he retired Vladimir Guerrero, but that was the only batter he had to retire to get the win.
The Wes Littleton Award
According to Fan Graphs, Luis Ayala contributed a 3.5 percentage point increase in the Mets’ chances to win against the Nationals on Wednesday when he retired Elijah Dukes and a pair of pinch-hitters.
Please hold the applause
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Alfredo Aceves struck out two over seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed only five hits to Angels batters. Two out of the 26 batters he faced struck out, five reached base safely on a hit. That is a lot of balls finding gloves.
But topping the rookie Aceves is “scrappy veteran” Brian Moehler, who went six innings despite failing to record a single punch-out. He allowed only five hits in his six frames of work, one of which went over the fence. So only four balls in play found grass in six innings.
The Joe Carter Award
Giants rookie first baseman Pablo Sandoval drove in eight runs in 27 at-bats while hitting .259/.241/.296.
Elsewhere, Kevin Kouzmanoff drove in six while batting .200/.222/.360.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
David DeJesus collected seven hits in 24 at-bats, but they were all singles and he only walked once for a .292/.296/.292.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Lance Berkman only produced five hits in 21 at-bats. But of those five, two were doubles and the Big Puma chipped in a home run and seven walks for good measure for a .238/.414/.476 week.
But Joey Votto trumps him with four hits in 21 at-bats, all for extra bases to go with eight walks and a .190/.414/.571 line, which is as extreme an example of a Killebrew line as I can remember this season.
The Steve Balboni Award
Mike Cameron had a tough week, striking out nine times in 20 at-bats for a poor .150/.227/.150 line.
Season: We’re at a point in the season where most of these cumulative awards don’t change too much on a week-to-week basis because there’s only so much that 25 at-bats can do to change a 500 at-bat sample. Having said that, I’ve already mentioned that it will be three full weeks before we revisit this topic again. So don’t be surprised if somebody takes this away from Mark Reynolds between then and now. He will be tough to beat though as he has struck out 183 times in 487 at-bats, second only to Ryan Howard. Reynolds’ .242/.321/.472 line is the picture of a flawed hitter, but one with promise.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
Jason Bay: 29 PA, 3 HR, 3 BB, 9 K
Alfonso Soriano: 30 PA, 3 HR, 7 BB, 8 K
Season: Ryan Howard: 639 PA, 43 HR, 72 BB, 189 K
This Week’s MVP
AL: Alex Rios is a good comeback story. A .387/.424/.806 week with two doubles, a triple, three home runs, and two walks is a nice exclamation point on a second-half surge. I am not one to put a lot of stock into the shape of a player’s in-season performance, but a month ago Rios was hitting a very pedestrian .280/.329/.419 and I was considering him for a Sanchez Award nomination. Since then he has hit .374/.405/.704 to bring his current season line up to .300/.345/.476.
Season: I’m really torn here. This thing is too close to call. My nominee from last week, Grady Sizemore has a putrid .038/.133/.038 week and has fallen to 24th in OPS in the AL, just behind Dustin Pedroia. Justin Morneau is getting some of his own publicity in this race and he is hitting .310/.385/.525 and is actually leading the league in Runs Created and Win Shares. But if defensive value is added, he’s solidly behind teammate Joe Mauer (.322/.410/.438) in the race for MVP of the Twins. You can make a case for Cliff Lee, and I have seen some people make good ones. But I guess I will go with Alex Rodriguez, who is hitting .308/.398/.588 and leads the AL in OPS among players with over 400 at-bats. But I could be swayed off of that by a good argument. It will be a fun race to watch develop, but one that the writers are almost certain to screw up in the end.
NL: Andre Ethier is another outfield who like Rios has been on fire since the All-Star break, going .327/.392/.637. This week he hit a staggering .636/.714/1.091 with seven extra-base hits and six walks against only three strikeouts.
Season: This one is much easier than the AL, or at least it should be easier. Albert Pujols is better than anybody on this planet at hitting a baseball. But that still probably won’t stop the BBWAA from making it more complicated than it needs to be.
We will return in October for the end of the season finale. Until then friends don’t let friends use bad stats.